Every second counts: local fire departments score well with CPR

TRI-CITIES, Wash. -- KEPR discovered our local fire departments are saving more lives than in other areas of the state.

You never know when your life depends on someone else's quick response.

"I was scared through the whole thing. It's still scares me to think about it."

Kai Nelsen is living proof that every second matters. Last September, the Tri-City native came within minutes of dying when he suffered a heart attack. The 50-year-old had no history of heart problems.

In the end, Nielsen's saving grace was a rapid response by Benton County emergency workers who managed to keep him alive in an ambulance until they got to the hospital.

"You're thankful every day you're still here," Nielsen says. "You try to do what you can to back firefighters."

Nielsen's story highlights the ongoing success of Benton County Fire District Four. In the aftermath of new ambulance service, and extra manpower new numbers show just how far the station has come at saving lives.

Benton County District Four now has a 67% success rate at bringing people back to life in cases of CPR. While other fire departments scored lower at resuscitating patients, each one still has a better success rate than the state average.. Meaning your chances of being saved in the Tri-Cities are much better than anywhere else in Eastern Washington.

"To have a start up ambulance service less than two years old, it's pretty good to have those numbers," says Chief Bill Whealan, Benton Fire District Four.

As KEPR told you last spring, extra staffing allowed Benton District Four to slash emergency response times by three minutes; something that was enough to save Nielsen's life.

Six months later, Nielsen has made a full recovery. He's one of many who's been saved thanks to extra money going to our first responders.

While Pasco and Kennewick have had less of a success at saving lives, it's important to note that they also get many more emergency calls than Benton District Four, so naturally their success rate wouldn't be as high.